Investors seek growth stocks to capitalize on above-average growth in financials that help these securities grab the market's attention and produce exceptional returns. But finding a great growth stock is not easy at all.
By their very nature, these stocks carry above-average risk and volatility. Moreover, if a company's growth story is over or nearing its end, betting on it could lead to significant loss.
However, it's pretty easy to find cutting-edge growth stocks with the help of the Zacks Growth Style Score (part of the Zacks Style Scores system), which looks beyond the traditional growth attributes to analyze a company's real growth prospects.
Ensign Group (ENSG) is on the list of such stocks currently recommended by our proprietary system. In addition to a favorable Growth Score, it carries a top Zacks Rank.
Studies have shown that stocks with the best growth features consistently outperform the market. And for stocks that have a combination of a Growth Score of A or B and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy), returns are even better.
Here are three of the most important factors that make the stock of this provider of nursing and rehabilitative care services a great growth pick right now.
Earnings growth is arguably the most important factor, as stocks exhibiting exceptionally surging profit levels tend to attract the attention of most investors. And for growth investors, double-digit earnings growth is definitely preferable, and often an indication of strong prospects (and stock price gains) for the company under consideration.
While the historical EPS growth rate for Ensign Group is 14.6%, investors should actually focus on the projected growth. The company's EPS is expected to grow 13.6% this year, crushing the industry average, which calls for EPS growth of 10.9%.
Cash Flow Growth
Cash is the lifeblood of any business, but higher-than-average cash flow growth is more beneficial and important for growth-oriented companies than for mature companies. That's because, high cash accumulation enables these companies to undertake new projects without raising expensive outside funds.
Right now, year-over-year cash flow growth for Ensign Group is 18.2%, which is higher than many of its peers. In fact, the rate compares to the industry average of -7.3%.
While investors should actually consider the current cash flow growth, it's worth taking a look at the historical rate too for putting the current reading into proper perspective. The company's annualized cash flow growth rate has been 16.9% over the past 3-5 years versus the industry average of -5.1%.
Promising Earnings Estimate Revisions
Superiority of a stock in terms of the metrics outlined above can be further validated by looking at the trend in earnings estimate revisions. A positive trend is of course favorable here. Empirical research shows that there is a strong correlation between trends in earnings estimate revisions and near-term stock price movements.
There have been upward revisions in current-year earnings estimates for Ensign Group. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has surged 3.1% over the past month.
Ensign Group has not only earned a Growth Score of B based on a number of factors, including the ones discussed above, but it also carries a Zacks Rank #1 because of the positive earnings estimate revisions.
You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
This combination indicates that Ensign Group is a potential outperformer and a solid choice for growth investors.
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